Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, participates in a press conference with members of the GOP Doctors Caucus following a meeting of the House Republican Conference in the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, January 19, 2022.
Tom Williams | CQ Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images
A group of 18 House Republicans is asking Twitter’s board of directors to keep all records related to Elon Musk’s bid to buy the company and open a possible congressional investigation if the party regains majority this fall.
In letters shared exclusively with CNBC, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee called on Twitter CEO Bret Taylor and other board members to preserve all messages from official or personal accounts, including through encryption software, that refer to the Twitter’s consideration of Musk’s offer.
“As Congress continues to investigate Big Tech and how best to protect Americans’ rights to free speech, this letter serves as a formal request to retain all records and materials related to Musk’s offer to purchase Twitter, including for review and response from Twitter on this offer. and Twitter’s assessment of its shareholder interests in relation to Musk’s bid,” read the letter, co-led by Rankings member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.
“You should understand this retention notice as an instruction to take all reasonable steps to prevent the destruction or alteration of all documents, communications and other information, including electronic information and metadata, that is or may be potentially relevant, whether intentionally or negligently of this congressional investigation,” the letter continued.
The request signals that should Republicans regain control of the House in the 2022 midterm elections, they may launch an investigation into Twitter, particularly if the company refuses to accept the offer from Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX. Under Republican control, the House Judiciary Committee could decide to subpoena records of the committee’s internal deliberations.
It’s not the first time Twitter has caught the attention of Republican lawmakers.
The platform has become a focal point for some conservative members who have accused Twitter of unfairly removing or moderating posts on ideological grounds. Twitter has denied this, saying it enforces standards based on its Community Guidelines.
In Friday’s letter to Taylor, lawmakers wrote: “Decisions about the future governance of Twitter will undoubtedly have ramifications for public discourse in the United States and could lead to renewed efforts to enact legislation promoting the preservation of free speech online.” . Among other things, the board’s reactions to Elon Musk’s offer to buy Twitter and opposition from outsiders to Musk’s role in Twitter’s future are worrying.”
Twitter also came under Republican criticism in October 2020 when it blocked links to a New York Post story alleging that Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, tried to introduce his father to a top executive at a Ukrainian company while his Father Vice President was worked for. A spokesman for Biden’s presidential campaign at the time the story went public said that no such meeting ever took place and that the Post “never asked the Biden campaign about the critical elements of this story.”
Twitter called at the time it blocked links to the story because it violated its policy on hacked materials and included personal information such as email addresses, which was also against its rules. Then-CEO Jack Dorsey later said it was “wrong” to block links to the story and said Twitter updated its policies to reflect that. The ordeal escalated criticism from the right on Twitter, many of whom felt the company was unfairly blocking the story on ideological grounds.
A Twitter spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
Here are the letters to Twitter board members:
https://www.cnbc.com/2022/04/22/republicans-demand-twitter-board-save-records-on-musks-bid.html Republicans are demanding the Twitter board keep records of Musk’s bid